By Lethbridge Herald on November 24, 2020.
The Lethbridge Therapeutic Riding Association received a $24,350 financial boost on Monday thanks to several local donations spurred on by Dennis and Sylvia Chinner.
The Chinners have been involved in volunteer efforts and donations with several local organizations over the years.
Sylvia is a 35-year RBC and RBC Dominion Securities employee while Dennis has been with the same RBC businesses for 31 years. Two years ago the couple donated a horse, Moonshine, to LTRA.
As the couple is retiring as of Dec. 1, and with a retirement party or other activity out of the question due to COVID-19, they decided to re-allocate those funds and establish a “Ride into Retirement Donation.”
“When they find good horses the costs don’t go away just because COVID happens,” said Dennis. “They still need to get fed, they still have vet bills, they still have farrier bills, all those other kinds of things. You can’t have the programming without having the horses.
The Chinners are donating $6,600 ($100 for each year they have been at RBC and RBC DS). Their business partner, Jessica Ross, is matching the donation for every year of her service and team members Tania Crabbe and Micayla Wilson for $650.
The RBC Foundation is donating $7,500 to match the personal donations.
The Chinners have partnered with a number of portfolio managers over the years and they are also contributing to the cause, including: Canoe Financial, $6,600; Fidelity Investments, $1,000; CI Funds, $500; and an anonymous donor, $1,500.
The donations will help LTRA in covering the cost to feed and maintain its horses as the organization has been forced to cancel a number of classes and fundraising activities.
“Dennis approached us about a charity that was very near and dear to him and it was the least we could do to support a great cause,” said Steve Mantrop of Canoe Financial. “When we’re looking at supporting things we look for local, we look for, again, the people behind it. When I see how passionate Dennis was about this specific charity, again, it was easy for us to come down and support it.”
“It’s amazing, the environment we’re in, everyone’s being very mindful of their pocketbooks, I would say,” added Mantrop. “So it speaks volumes to the people involved here, that people would still donate in more challenging times. I’m very please to see that. It goes along way in the community.”
The donations couldn’t come at a better time for LTRA.
“It’s been a little bit of a difficult year for us, as with lots of the non-profits in southern Alberta and everywhere else,” said LTRA president Jo Hillman. “We had to cut back our programs because of the COVID and our camps only operated at 50 per cent in the summertime.
“We’ve lost some of the clients because of difficulty in getting out here and the fear of possibly coming out. But we just keep going. We stop and we rethink and we go forward. And we hope that 2021 will be a better year for us.”
Hillman added they have been overwhelmed by the response to their equine wellness connection, which they have patterned with Alberta Health Services.
“It was over $24,000 Ñ it’s a massive amount,” said Hillman. “But we have to think, it costs us about $3,000 a month just to feed our horses. We’re actually very fortunate in we can generate revenue from our boarders and that has helped us over the summertime as well.”
Hillman said LTRA will continue with its fundraising as much as possible. Their golf tournament was cancelled but the Ride for Dreams took place with 33 riders raising more than $30,000.
People who would like to support LTRA can do so through the website at ltra.ca.
Ñ With files from Ian Martens